Common Cognitive Disorders of Language

Language is a complex cognitive skill that involves many regions of the brain. Stroke, brain injury, disease, developmental disabilities, and aging can cause people to lose their language abilities and not be able to communicate with others. In this article, we identify 5 common cognitive disorders of language and their causes.


Aphasia is the inability to comprehend or produce language due to brain damage. This damage usually occurs in the left hemisphere and affects the language processing area. There are many different types of aphasia that are covered in this video.  

Primary Progressive Aphasia (PPA)

Primary progressive aphasia (PPA) occurs with dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. Patients with PPA gradually lose the ability to produce, comprehend, and read. Executive functioning and memory are also gradually lost with this condition. PPA is only seen in aging adults.

Apraxia of Speech

Apraxia of Speech is a motor-cognitive disorder in which people have difficulty planning and coordinating the movements needed to produce speech. Apraxia of speech can occur from having a stroke or brain damage to the left hemisphere. Other causes of apraxia of speech can be developmental, as seen in children at young ages. Sometimes, apraxia of speech and aphasia get misdiagnosed. 

Auditory Verbal Agnosia

Auditory verbal agnosia is when someone loses the ability to understand language, repeat words, and write spoken words. People with this disorder behave as if they were being spoken to in a foreign language, as they do not recognize words being spoken. Auditory verbal agnosia can occur when someone has a stroke that impacts both hemispheres of their brain.


Dyslexia is a learning and developmental disability that impacts someone’s ability to read and decode written language. Oftentimes, people with dyslexia misspell, repeat words when writing, and or reverse letters or numbers in written text. The cause of dyslexia is still being researched, but some work has shown differences in activation of the inferior frontal gyrus, inferior parietal lobe, and medial-ventral temporal lobe. Children are often diagnosed with dyslexia in school when they have difficulty reading and can undergo intensive dyslexia therapy with a speech-language pathologist and educator. 


While there are many different cognitive disorders that can interfere with language, the ones listed above are the most common cognitive disorders that affect someone’s language ability. Different medical conditions or trauma can cause people to lose language abilities. Cognitive rehabilitation therapy can help people experiencing language loss. All patient populations, who have difficulty with language, can benefit from cognitive rehabilitation therapy program.  Unfamiliar with cognitive rehabilitation therapy? Learn more about cognitive rehabilitation therapy here.

Dustin Luchmee

Dustin was HappyNeuron's Product Specialist. With research experience in stroke, Dustin learned how a stroke can change someone's life. He also learned how different kinds of therapists can work together to help a person get better. He is passionate about neuro-rehabilitation and finding the active ingredients for effective therapy.

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